Pediatric cancer: unsafe opioid storage common among parents

  • Madden K & al.
  • J Pain Symptom Manage
  • 25.09.2019

  • von Kelli Whitlock Burton
  • Clinical Essentials
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Takeaway

  • 90% of parents of children with cancer did not safely store their children’s prescription opioids, and one-fifth gave their child more opioids than prescribed.
  • 6% gave their child's opioids to someone else in pain; 3% took their child's opioids themselves.

Why this matters

  • The lack of safe storage and proper usage is concerning, as hospitalizations for opioid toxicity in children doubled between 1996 and 2012, and the childhood mortality rate from opioid poisoning tripled.

Study design

  • Prospective cross-sectional survey of 106 parents of pediatric patients receiving an opioid prescription (February-November 2018).
  • The patterns of storage, use, and disposal of prescription opioids were evaluated.
  • Funding: None disclosed.

Key results

  • 90% of parents did not store opioids safely, and 21% of parents gave their children more opioids than prescribed.
  • 6% of parents gave their child’s opioid to someone else in pain, and 3% of parents took it themselves.
  • Unsafe use (giving more opioids than prescribed) of opioids in children was most likely among parents either who consumed their child's opioids (P=.01) or who shared them with others (P<.001>
  • 6% of parents were instructed on how to dispose of the opioid medications.
  • 52% of parents had leftover pain medication (40% disposed of their child's opioid and 14% did not dispose of opioids safely).

Limitations

  • Findings may not be generalizable.

Coauthored with Chitra Ravi, MPharm